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On the 18th floor of the Atlanta Financial Center, tech entrepreneurs recently pitched to potential investors over wine and brie.

John Duisberg, co-founder of Cooleaf, which makes a mobile app for employee engagement, tells the crowd he needs $500,000 to double the size of his company. It's got most of that money secured.

Two years ago, it was a different story.

Under fire for misleading governments and customers about its diesel cars' emissions, Volkswagen has a plan to recall millions of vehicles so it can fix the problem. The company has said it sold 11 million cars worldwide that use software to limit emissions only during official testing.

The news comes from a large internal meeting at the company led by Matthias Mueller, who took over as VW's leader last week after Martin Winterkorn's resignation.

"The value of my education is priceless, but the value of my education is also not $140,000 in debt."

That was the statement of a Hunter College graduate with a master's degree, as quoted in the documentary Ivory Tower. And a new national poll suggests that thousands of graduates, especially younger graduates, agree with her.

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The drought in California over the past four years has hit the agriculture industry hard, especially one of the smallest farm creatures: honeybees. A lack of crops for bees to pollinate has California's beekeeping industry on edge.

Gene Brandi is one of those beekeepers. He has a colony of bees near a field of blooming alfalfa just outside the Central California town of Los Banos. He uses smoke from a canister of burning burlap to calm the bees.

Journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, puppetry artist Basil Twist and neuroscientist Beth Stevens work in wholly unrelated fields, but they do have at least one thing in common.

Along with 21 others, they are winners of the 2015 "genius" grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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And it's time for All Tech Considered.


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Stepping off his recent flight from Boston at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, education consultant Debashis Sengupta looked a little surprised.

"The flight today was actually quite nice," says Sengupta. "No problems at all, in fact — not something I was expecting from United."

This frequent flier says an uneventful, on-time flight on United is the exception, not the rule.

Cheaper jet fuel prices are starting to translate into lower airfares, which may begin prompting infrequent fliers to plan holiday travel.

And cheaper technology may be turning drones into affordable Christmas presents. In fact, one FAA official says a million new flying robots may be under Christmas trees this year as a result of price drops.

Now let's add that up and consider what it could mean for the last week of December:

Inexperienced travelers will be crowding airport security lines. And a million inexperienced operators will be sending up drones.